Demonstrating Water Savings in Potato Production

DEMONSTRATING WATER SAVINGS IN POTATO PRODUCTION

C.Snodgrass, UF/IFAS Extension, Manatee County, Palmetto, FL and G.Liu, UF/IFAS, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL.

Situation: Florida grows 36,600 acres of potatoes annually. Traditionally irrigated using seepage irrigation, which can be less efficient than other methods, novel methods of water conservation and other BMPs are now needed to help conserve Florida’s precious water supply.  A three year study was conducted evaluating the use of over-head irrigation in potato.  Two grower demonstration field days were held to showcase trial results.  As a result of conversion to center pivot irrigation, a 25% reduction in on-farm water usage will demonstrated by trial results; 70% of field day participants will show interest in adopting water-saving technology on their operations as indicated by a verbal survey. Methods: A three year on-farm potato yield and quality study comparing center pivot to seepage irrigation was conducted by UF/IFAS state and county faculty, SWFWMD, and FDACS.  Two field day demonstrations were held, incorporating oral presentations, displays, and question and answer sessions. Topics included water usage, potato nutrition, pest management, soil testing and tuber quality and yield. Results: Trial results show a 50%-60% reduction in on-farm water usage; 74% of field day participants (41 of 56) indicated an interest in adopting center-pivot irrigation technology on their own operations as indicated by a verbal survey. Conclusions: Adopting new technology is often intimidating to growers. However, field demonstrations allow them to see results for themselves.

If center pivot irrigation were to be adopted statewide, at a water savings of 344,856 gallons per acre in potato, approximately 12.6 billion gallons of water could be saved annually.

(Click photo to enlarge.)